Logo Design, by LogoWorks
Posted: 15-Oct-2006

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: LogoWorks Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: SERVICE
     
Packages starting at $299  

Overview
Are you trying to come up with a logo for your company or organization, but are having a hard time creating a catchy logo that you like? Or did you already create a logo, but have always felt it lacked professional quality? Coming up with a professional quality, winning logo design is no easy task. You want your design to capture the theme of your business or organization in a unique way that looks and feels great. Your logo is a prominent reflection of you and your company or organization. Properly designed, it can communicate that your company is credible, trustworthy and professional. A high quality logo also differentiates you from others, and creates a powerful memory in the minds of those that view it. You can spend endless hours trying to achieve this goal, and still be disappointed with the end result. You might consider highering a professional graphics artist, but that is costly, and still no guarantee that you'll like the results.

What if you can "borrow" some graphics artists? And what if you can get different ideas based upon your initial request, collect feedback from people, and specify design changes to evolve the logo into exactly what you want? This is exactly the type of service that Logoworks of Lindon, Utah, provides in a variety of different packages.

Logoworks is an online service whose entire business model is to provide an easy and affordable logo design solution for small businesses and organizations. Logoworks employs a great number of designers who have expertise in logo design, graphics design and website design, many of which have a well-rounded skill set that involves all of these functions.

Pricing

Price ranges from $299 for just a logo design, up to $1499 which includes logo design, business stationery design, and web site design. All of these packages can be viewed in an easy-to-read table on Logowork's website. Depending on the selected package, you can have anywhere from 2 to 5 designers working on your concept. Standard logo design packages (Silver, Gold and Platinum) includes from 2 to 5 designers, from 4 to 10 initial concepts, and from 2 to unlimited revisions. There there are the Gold Corporate and Platinum Corporate packages which also include business card design, letterhead design, and envelope design. At the top end of the line is the Start Up package which also includes website design. At the time of this review, Logoworks is also offering 250 free business cards for both Corporate packages and the Start Up package.

Choosing A Package
Which package to select depends greatly on your specific needs. Are you just looking for a logo design, or are you also interested in business cards, stationery, or even a web site? The lowest priced package, the Silver package, includes 2 designers, 4 initial concepts, and only includes 2 revisions. I say "only" 2 revisions because all of the other packages include unlimited revisions. In some circumstances, two revisions may be all you need. For instance, if you already have a clear idea of what you're looking for and provide them a concrete starting point, or if your needs are really simple and/or less demanding. If you find yourself unsatisfied after the 2nd revision, you can pay an additional fee to go one more revision. If, however, you keep going this way, you'll end up passing the price point of the next package up - the Gold package. The Gold package, only $100 more than the Silver, provides unlimited revisions, an additional designer, and 2 additional initial concepts.

The platinum package provides 5 designers, 10 initial concepts, and unlimited revisions. This is the best option for running a broader range of ideas, but it's also priced $200 more than the Gold package. As you will read in this review, the revision process is one of the key elements that makes the logo design process successful, so I would recommend a minimum of the Gold package. If you have interest in stationery and business cards, and have budget for an additional $150 or so, then the corporate packages will be a great benefit (and currently also include 250 free business cards). The high-end Start Up package is priced quite a bit more than the rest, $750 more than the Platinum Corporate. It includes a full web site design. This was the only package not reviewed.

How It Works
Logowork's design process is broken down into five primary steps:

  1. You describe your business and preferences
  2. Logoworks creates a number of initial logo concepts for you to choose from
  3. Logoworks revises your chosen logo based upon your feedback
  4. You select your final logo only after completely satisfied
  5. Optional step for creating business stationery based upon your logo design


Establishing Your Needs
The first step of the process is to answer a questionaire that Logoworks provides you. Your answers provide Logoworks with some basic information about your business or organization, as well as some insight as to what you may be looking for. It includes looking at a
package of logos already created by Logoworks. By selecting the ones that you like, they get a feel of what your tastes are (don't worry, they do not just duplicate or combine the selected logos).

After submitting your information, your project is assigned a project manager, and a design team is selected. You don't actually see the names of the people on the design team, but according to the package you selected, you should have from 2 to 5 designers working on your logo. Logoworks states they they have over 250 creative directors and graphic designers, so the resources are there. The project manager does not select the design team for you; rather, available designers sign up for the projects they'd like to work on and Logoworks assembles them on the project accordingly. That means that the designers working on your project are there by choice, not because they have to.

If they have questions about your requirements, the project manager will email and/or call you to discuss them. This is a good thing, as it shows that they are interested in learning as much as they can to tailer the logo design to your needs.

Once the project starts, you can visit the website to see the status. When work is in progress, the web site provides an estimated date AND TIME when completion of this step of the process will be completed. I thought it was pretty cool that they would narrow it down to the exact time. The initial concept phase typically took 3 business days, and was delivered on the promised date, either at or before the promised time.

Reviewing the Initial Concepts
This step is where the fun begins. Based solely upon the information you provided Logoworks, you now receive a number of initial concepts. Depending upon your package, you'll have from 4 to 10 concepts to look at. In many cases, they provided a few bonus concepts as well (note, that extra concepts are not guaranteed).

You'll receive notification via email, and then go to their website to review the logos. On the website, you'll have the option to either select one of the concepts to use, or setup an automated feedback page for friends and coworkers to help you decide. By entering in a list of names and email addresses (no worries on privacy issues, as they do not share, or even retain, the email addresses you list here), your friends and colleagues are notified of your logo designs. The email that is sent to them brings them to a page that lets them rate the logos, and even provide comments. I found this tool to be extremely valuable, and really interesting to see how people's tastes varied. Likewise, having the logo concepts on the web made the process easier, not having to email images to people and hope that the recipients were able to view them. Viewing them on the web, you know exactly what they are looking it. It's also important to note that Logoworks' web site does not have any of that proprietary crap that some web sites have that break the page under certain browsers or on certain platforms. I had the same viewing experience on a variety of browsers, both on Mac and on Windows.

After processing the ratings and comments (you decide how long to wait), you then must select one of the initial concepts for the Logoworks team to work with. You may be hard-pressed to select one. For instance, you may not really like any of them, or you may like some aspects from one, and other aspects from another. If you absolutely hate all of them and lose faith in the process, you can back out at this time and get a refund, but you'll forfeit a $75 fee which is non-refundable. The key at this point is to remember that these are initial concepts, and your finished product may not look anything like the initial concepts. If you chose the Silver package, then with only two revisions, you'll hopefully like at least one of the initial concepts.

After selecting a concept, you include a lot of feedback with your submission. You state what you liked about the concept, what you don't like, and you also can mention what you like about other concepts that you didn't select. You can say something like, "I really liked the graphic in concept 1, but I prefer the font style of concept 3". You can even submit files with your feedback that can be anything from a list of more information to help the designers, to actual graphics that you revised yourself to show them the direction you'd like to go.

What's important to note is that you should become part of the process. You could sit back and let the Logoworks designers run willy nilly with your logo, providing minimal feedback, and they'll still come up with a design. However, if you really want this logo to represent your business, the more you become part of the process, the better the results will be. The way I looked at it was that I didn't hire a team to create my company's logo; rather, I hired a team to help me create my company's logo.

Revision Process
Once you have selected your initial concept, Logoworks will provide you a new date and time for when they will have a revision of the concept ready for you to view. If your feedback indicate a lot of changes, including incorporating aspects from other concepts, they will likely provide more than one revision to look at. Once your receive the revisions, once again you must select the revised concept you like the best. If it is exactly what you want, you can choose to select it as your final design. If it still needs work, then you provide additional feedback, and submit the selection for additional revisements.

With the exception of the Silver package, you can continue this revision cycle for as long as you need to. There is no reason to select anything less than what you want, and even after several revisions, you can choose to alter the direction (say, for example, the direction you were headed seemed to be getting less desireable).

The colleague feedback system is not activated during the revision process, so I set up my own web page to display concept designs for others to rate. It would have been easier to use Logoworks feedback page had they offered it, but the one advantage I did have for creating my own web page is that I could add concepts of my own design (altered versions of Logoworks designs). If any of those became popular, I could then submit the altered concept to Logoworks during the feedback process.

Final Selection
Once you've made your final selection, Logoworks takes a few more business days to finalize the artwork into hi-resolution graphics. They will notify you once the work is ready, at which time you may immediately download the logos. They provide you three versions of the logo, all hi-resolution in EPS, JPEG, and TIF formats. In addition, they send you a CD that contains the finished product.

Stationery and Business Cards
Whether you opted for a package that included stationery and business cards, or if you decided to add-on this product after seeing your logo, having Logoworks setup stationery and business card graphics is definitely worth consideration. If you love the logo they came up with, you'll love the stationery, and of course you'll want business cards that tout your new logo.

The process of getting stationery and business card graphics is much easier than the logo process, since you've already done the hard part: decided upon a specific logo. Utilizing the theme and colors of your logo, Logoworks comes up with a couple of options for stationery. You select the one you like the best, and if you want any changes, you can also get revisions of your selection. Once the final selection has been made, Logoworks puts together a downloadable package for you that includes the following:

  • Fonts used
  • Business Card front in EPS and PDF
  • Business Card back in EPS and PDF
  • Envelope in EPS and PDF
  • Letter head in EPS and PDF


Taking It Further
If you're really happy with your logo design, Logoworks offers a number of ways to take your logo even further. They offer a boat load of
promotional products through 3rd party vendors that sport your logo, ranging from pens and cups to shirts, sweaters and hats. Many of these products require a one-time setup fee, and then you just pay per item. For the clothing lines, they will do a stitch of the logo on some fabric using the colors you select, and then email you a picture of the stitch for approval before initiating the order with the clothing vendor. You can also setup various options, such as using one color theme on dark colors, and another color theme on light colors.

How It Rates
For this review, we initiated logo designs for the Mac Guild, Pascal Central, and ExcaliburWorld Software. Skipping directly to the end, you can see the resulting logos using the links below:

Each of these requests came from different perspectives, and involved a different process in finally coming to a final selection.

Pascal Central logo
Perhaps the easiest and least cumbersome logo design (for both myself and the Logoworks staff) was the Pascal Central logo design. Pascal Central has been around for a number of years, and we didn't want to veer too far away from the current logo design. The logo only consisted of the text "Pascal Central", and some version of a bust of Blaise Pascal. These elements weren't negotiable. That basically left the Logoworks design staff to come up with variations of the bust as well as variations of the text style. For the initial concepts, I obtained reviews from members of the MacPascal mailing list. I noticed immediately that concepts that got too artsy were immediately rejected, and the flow of thought seemed to point towards elegance and simplicity. The revision process only took a few turns before a final selection was made. Because most of the concept design was already pre-determined, this example shows an evoluation of taking a fixed design and simply making it look nicer.

Take a look at our previous two designs from
2000 and 2004, and then compare them with our new logo design.


Pascal Central logo - 2000


Pascal Central logo - 2004


Pascal Central logo - 2006


The graphic is crisper and cleaner, and the font style is far more elegant and representative of the Pascal Central community than either of the former logos. Granted, they didn't just come up with that logo on the fly, but it was relatively easy to point Logoworks in the right direction. This design is also a good illustration of how important the fine details are. Each curve, each stroke, each color, all impacts the overall effect the logo has visually on the viewer.

Mac Guild logo
The next logo design was for the Mac Guild, the very web site that this review is being published on. Members of the Mac Guild User Group are scattered throughout the United States, and although they all have one thing in common - Macintosh Computers - the diversity in this group is as dramatic as any random selection of personalities from the US. It was amusing to read the comments, as I would often read one opinion, followed by another that almost completely the opposite.

I should state that the initial set of concepts provided for the Mac Guild logo were immediately rejected. Somewhere in the communication, there must have been a misunderstanding, as none of the initial logos incorporated the Finder icon or Apple icon as requested. Logoworks was good enough to come up with an entirely different set of logos, and so the revision process began.

As mentioned above, the opinions of Mac Guild members differed dramatically. For starters the group appeared to be split in pieces as far as their favorite Mac Guild icon selection.


Mac Guild audience split amongst a wide range of icon designs

The good thing about the colleague reviews is that in addition to selecting a design (they actually select their top 3), they also provide their comments associated to their selection. The comments were a major contributor to the direction the logo design went. For instances, due to the comparison of the icon to the far right to the Microsoft Messenger icon, we discarded that design. Someone compared the globe design to a travel agency, so it was discarded. The shield design was compared to a road sign, but at the same time, many people liked the feel of the logo, recommending a change to the shape. Based upon these feedbacks, I narrowed down the icons to the following:


Narrowing down the Mac Guild icons

At the same time, we were trying to narrow down the best text option and fonts. There were a number of varying options, but the one we finally went with was:


The Mac Guild text

The Mac Guild logo design took a different path than that of the Pascal Central design. Because there were so many varying opinions, after the initial concepts, I setup my own web page for reviewing logo designs (since the colleague review was no longer available). During this process, we began to experiment and alter Logowork's designs to come up with new ones. In other words, we took ownership of the process, which I think is important to mention. If you are working on your company logo, it is unlikely that someone who does not fully understand your entity is going to just magically come up with the "killer design" out of the box. Granted, sometimes things like that do happen, but I don't think it's a fair expectation. From my experience, I think it is critical that you get deeply entrenched with the Logoworks design team, and understand that you can alter the course, come up with new ideas, and basically take your logo design exactly where you want to take it. The way that Logoworks worked with us during the design evolution is of tremendous value to this process.

In the end, we eventually discarded the Apple icon due to it being too similar to Apple Computer's logo. We believe it was different enough to not conflict with their trademark, but we didn't believe it was different enough to give our User Group the unique identity that we were shooting for. Unfortunately, once we were down to two icons, the Mac Guild was evenly divided between the two remaining options (should I have been surprised?). I personally like them both, so having the membership split on the two did not help me make a decision. At that point, I decided to make a creative decision. I asked for a logo design that included both icons. Although the Logoworks designers strongly recommended against that, I had alterior motives for pursuing it. It dawned on me that I didn't need to make a decision right away between the two icons, and so by selecting a design that contained them both, I could make that decision later on. Moreover, I could use the icon that wasn't selected for the main web page for a different purpose, such as the website favicon, or the Mac Guild membership website. So although the final design selected contained both icons, the Photoshop revised logo design used on the Mac Guild web site features only the circular Finder icon design. I ended up using the shield icon as the website favicon, and will probably incorporate it into the membership site.


Mac Guild logo - 2004



Mac Guild logo - 2006

ExcaliburWorld logo
Of the three logo designs, the ExcaliburWorld logo was probably the most difficult. This is not due to anything on Logooworks part, but mainly due to it being my personal company. In other words, I have a bigger emotional investment in this logo design, so even though I still got a lot of feedback from others, I tended to ignore any feedback that I didn't agree with. This was my baby.

At the start of the process, I was not enamoured with any of the logo designs. Again, this was not due to Logoworks designers not coming through with unique and interesting designs, but primarily because none of the designs converyed the feeling that I wanted to feel from the logo. This, however, is where a miscommunication led to a pause in the action. At that point, I had the understanding (misunderstanding as it turned out to be) that if you didn't like any of the initial concepts, you could toss them all and start over. This, however, is not the policy. The only reason we got away with it for the Mac Guild logos is because the initial concepts were based upon a misinterpretation of the requirements. In the case of ExcaliburWorld, I was just being extremely picky.

As the policy goes, to discard all the initial concepts, you would essentially be terminating the contract, which you can do, but for a fee of $75. So in essence, if you wanted to have an entirely new set of initial concepts, you could pay the $75 fee and start over. Once I understood the policy, I realized there was no reason to go that route. This package allowed for unlimited revisions, and as the Logoworks project manager indicated, even though I would have to choose one of these initial concepts, the final design could very well be nothing like any of the initial concepts. So I chose one concept and moved forward. It's important to note in light of this experience, that if you have even halfway serious intentions for the logo, choose a package that provides unlimited revisions.

After selecting one of the concepts, I included a lot of feedback indicating all the things that I wanted to see changed. I did like varying aspects from a few of the other concepts, so I mentioned those as well. In the end, and after several revision cycles, I ended up going with a logo design that did have remnants from a few of the initial concepts, as well as some new design elements introduced along the way. In looking back, I've also realized that the evolution of this logo actually eliminated a number of fancy stuff that I liked, but that, in the end, didn't work as part of the logo. This is where emotional attachment can get you stuck, and another reason why unlimited revisions can be really important. I eventually let go of the "lady in the lake" image found in the original
ExcaliburWorld logo, and opted for a simple, yet very cool and elegant logo design.


ExcaliburWorld Software final logo design


Business Cards
The packages I reviewed included stationery and business cards graphics, and I was very impressed with the results for all three logos. The graphics allow you to print high quality stationery and business cards with your logo design. I highly recommend it as a package add-on (if you didn't already order a package that includes it).

You can use a number of 3rd party business card printing services for printing up the cards, or you can use Logoworks. They include a pretty nice deal for printing your first box of business cards, and for this review, I was able to get a box of business cards for the Mac Guild. I was so impressed with the quality of the cards, that I decided to order a box of cards for ExcaliburWorld as well (only the first box was provided for the review, but the cost and quality was attractive enough to pay for another box).

Promotional Items
For the purposes of this review, Logoworks also provided me a budget to order Mac Guild promotional items. After reviewing the different items and prices, I opted for a few hats and long sleeve shirts. I chose hats and shirts of both light and dark material, so I worked with Logoworks over a period of a few days to develop just the right color theme to show up well on the clothing. I also opted for the Mac Guild logo with just a single icon (aka, no shield icon). Once we decided on the color themes, they did a couple of stitch outs, and from there, the order was placed.

When I received the marchandise, I was ecstatic. First of all, the quality of the shirts and hats is top notch. Logoworks uses 3rd party clothing vendors that pride themselves with delivering on quality merchandise. The best part, however, was how beautiful the Mac Guild logos appeared visually on both the shirts and the hats.


Mac Guild Logo Hat

Since the one top setup fee has already been paid for on the clothing items, this also opens the doors for anyone within the Mac Guild, or even outside the Mac Guild who simply want a Mac Guild logo'd item, to order a hat or shirt of your choice for the direct cost shown on the web site. It truly is the buyer's choice. Even though I ordered specific colors and styles of shirts and hats, the stitching can be applied to any clothing item. That means you can order any style or any color of hat or shirt you can find on the web site, either on the Logoworks web site, or on the web site of the 3rd party vendors (these web sites offer more styles than are shown on Logoworks' site).


Mac Guild Logo Shirt

NOTE: There are no proceeds that go to the Mac Guild for purchasing any of these items, so you shouldn't purchase with the idea that you are benefiting the Mac Guild financially. Of course, in terms of prestige and pride, all purchases definitely benefit the Mac Guild in spirit!

Interfacing
For the most part, the entire logo design process is conducted through email and the Logoworks website. There were times during the review cycles, especially at startup, when the project lead would also call on the phone to discuss the project. There was enough continuous interaction to keep me satisfied with the communication during the entire process. The scheduled next revisions also helped in removing any feelings of "why haven't I seen anything?" They tell you exactly when you will see something next, and not once during any of the logo designs I reviewed did they miss a date or time (sometimes earlier, but never later).

The website was used for viewing the designs, submitting revision feedback, and collecting peer reviews. For the most part, the website worked just fine. It did not have any of that PC-only proprietary junk in it, so I never had any problems using it under Safari on my Mac.

There is, however, some room for improvements.

As peer reviews came in, they were sorted alphabetically, rather than new ones showing up at the top. This made it a bit difficult for me to discern which reviews were new each time I previewed the web page. Having them sorted by date received would have been an easier way to review the newest entries. Further, when reading comments by peers, they often refer to the compositions by number (because that is what is they see during the review), but on the peer reviews page, I only see the chosen logos and the rankings without the original concept numbers. It would have been very helpful to have the composition numbers attached to each logo to make sense out of a lot of the feedback.

When reviewing revisions on the web, I often wanted to see the original concepts to compare to, and to possibly make further references to the original concepts. Unfortunately, you have no visibility to the original concepts once the revisions come online. I had to manually download the original concepts one by one so that I can keep them handy for comparisons. Also, when submitting revision feedback, it would be good to have a visual of all the concepts (or at least a pop up link to them) so it is easier to reference them. You always have to choose one concept, but you often make references to the other concepts as part of the feedback. The website could improve this process to make it easier to reference whichever concepts that needed to be referenced.

For those who order packages with limited revisions, it would also be helpful if the web site included how many revisions you have left. It's very easy to loose track. NOTE: If you are on your last revision, you may choose a further revision in which you are taken to a credit card page to pay $40 for the additional revision. However, for a small defect, such as wanting to remove a flaw in the graphic, you can optionally call Logoworks to discuss the matter. It would be nice to have the option to handle those instances online as well.

With regards to the email notifications, one thing missing from the email was a reference to the specific project. The email basically says something along the lines of "your revisions are ready to review", but doesn't state which project. Granted, this is only an issue if you have multiple projects, but it's probably also an easy thing to fix.

Finally, when it comes down to the promotional items, there is currently no online process for handling these. An online process would speed things up and make it easier to manage (and most likely encourage more customers to try it out). At the time of this review, the process involves emailing product descriptions and quantities, and then later receiving emailed invoices.


Summary
Logoworks is truly a one-stop shopping service for all of your logo needs. They provide an extensive and methodical approach to logo designs for your business, club, website, or any entity that a logo would benefit. Based upon information you provide at signup, the Logoworks team of designers creates a set of unique logo designs for you to choose from. Logoworks uses a web-based interface to their team of designers, providing features such as peer review for selecting a design to start with and online feedback to improve the design. Depending upon the package you select, you get a limited or unlimited number of revisions before you have to select a final design. Logoworks sends you a CD containing all the final logo design artwork, as well as making it downloadable via the web for instant gratification. They also provide services for business card and stationery templates based upon your new logo, and can print up the business cards for you. You can also order pens, cups, hats, shirts, and more, all featuring your newly created logo. While there are a few features on the web that could be improved, the overall design process was easy to use and produced fantastic results. With limited revisions, Logoworks will create a unique design based upon your initial criteria that can be used as-is or further improved by your own graphics artists. With unlimited revisions, you can sit back and let Logoworks do all the work, as their design team produces revision after revision until they reach a design that you are completely satisfied with. For those looking for that special and unique symbol to represent your company or group and have the budget for the service, you really cannot go wrong with any of the Logoworks unlimited revisions packages.

Pros

  • Great way to hire temporary designers at a fixed price
  • Creates unique and professionally designed logos
  • Unlimited revisions option means you only accept the design that you love
  • Colleague feedback is very helpful
  • Stationery, business cards and promotional items make it a one stop logo design center


Cons

  • If you have limited revisions, you may not be happy with the final design
  • Peers reviews are only available on the initial concepts
  • Peers reviews are not sorted by date nor include composition numbers for reference
  • Revision feedback form does not provide easy access to designs for reference
  • No online process for ordering promotional items


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice